The Summer Cottage Book Summary & Review

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All of my book and film reviews are free of spoiler alerts, but you might not know that if this is your first time checking one of them out. So, sit back and relax while you learn a little bit about:

Title: The Summer Cottage

Author: Susan Kietzman

Genre: Domestic Fiction

Publisher: Kensington

Trigger Warnings: None

Spoilers?: None

Publishing Date: March 28, 2017

* To read my interview with Susan Kietzman, author of The Summer Cottage click here!

I have been looking for the perfect beach read even though I hail from the perpetually gray Pittsburgh, about seven hours from the nearest saltwater beach. As I’m sure many of you can relate to, sand, seagulls, and a backdrop of crashing waves are not necessary for enjoying a good beach read! That said, the book I chose to kick off summer this year certainly makes me want to hightail it to Long Island, where the crabs are fresh, and the corn is ready for shucking! The Summer Cottage by Susan Kietzman is a touching story about family dynamics, the indelible mark parents leave on their children long after they’re gone, and how family always finds a way back to the dinner table.

The story jumps back and forth between the summers of 2003 and 1973, allowing readers to peek in on the middle-class, highly individual members of the Thompson family and, of course, their summer cottage at the beach.

When the ailing matriarch, Claire, summons her four grown children, Thomas, Charlotte, Pammy, and Helen, to the cottage under the threat of disinheritance if they don’t show, the family returns to see what their mother has up her sleeve. When Claire tasks Helen, the golden child and her mother’s day-to-day caretaker, to present the ultimatum to the remaining Thompson siblings, no one is pleased to return to the cottage under the circumstances.

Will all the Thompson siblings show up for the big family reunion? Charlotte, the firecracker who likes booze and younger men? Pammy, the big-city girl who wonders if love only exists for her in romance novels? Thomas, with his ambitious goals? Claire, for one, has no doubt her children will answer the call and return to the family’s summer home.

The cottage was always a place of leisure, comfort food, and a shoulder to lean on for the Thompson siblings, but is it still? Can Helen, Pammy, Thomas, and Charlotte handle the choices before them, and forgive each other so they can regain a sense of closeness?  

The story showcases how families evolve as the members grow up, pass on, and bounce back from unmet expectations. Kietzman allows her characters to be individuals, not likable in every way (much like the people in our own lives), but who understand and respect their roots, finding a sense of place in each other no matter how much time has passed.

If you’re looking for a book that will get you in the mood to dig your toes in the sand, make a blueberry pie, and drink iced tea with your sister on the porch (even though she is relentless about calling you out on your crap), pick up a copy of The Summer Cottage to jumpstart the season! You’ll keep turning the pages to see if Pammy ever finds true love…at least I sure did!

Read what the author herself says about what inspired her to write The Summer Cottage:

“Many fiction writers draw from personal experience – and I’m no exception. My mom and her two sisters own a house on the Connecticut shoreline. And I’ve spent part of every summer there since I was born. In The Summer Cottage, Helen engages in many of the activities I enjoyed as a child, including hunting for sea glass, swimming to the raft, crabbing at the docks, and hanging out at the train tracks. I will spend two weeks there in July, with various family members coming and going. Being there is always one of the highlights of my summer.”